Sunday 20 October 2019

Doctor who wanted to donate kidney to stranger had to travel to Northern Ireland

Altruistic: Dr Dominic Natin 'wanted to help'
Altruistic: Dr Dominic Natin 'wanted to help'
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A Dublin doctor was forced to travel to Northern Ireland to donate a kidney to help a sick stranger.

Dr Dominick Natin, an occupational physician in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, is one of a handful of altruistic donors who have given a kidney to someone they do not know.

Fun: Dialysis patient Sam Kinahan (4), from Baldoyle, Dublin, with sister Ali (8) at the launch of the Irish Kidney Association's Run for a Life family fun run in Clondalkin on May 25. Photo: Conor McCabe
Fun: Dialysis patient Sam Kinahan (4), from Baldoyle, Dublin, with sister Ali (8) at the launch of the Irish Kidney Association's Run for a Life family fun run in Clondalkin on May 25. Photo: Conor McCabe

There is no such programme in the Republic, which confines donation of kidneys from people who have died or from living donors of relatives or friends.

Dr Natin, who travelled to Belfast to donate his kidney, said that "from an early age" he wanted to help others and he is also a regular blood donor having been inspired by his childhood GP.

It is believed another three to five transplants could be carried out here annually if altruistic donation was allowed, the 'Medical Independent' reported.

But people who express an interest to doctors at Beaumont Hospital, where kidney transplants are carried out, have to be directed to Northern Ireland.

Dr Natin said he read widely about giving the kidney in advance of having the operation and he underwent a thorough assessment.

He was told his kidney was a perfect match for a patient who was on the waiting list.

Late last year, he finished work at 6pm, took the train to Belfast and had his kidney removed the following day.

"I woke up that evening feeling absolutely fine," he said. "I was told the good news that the recipient had got the kidney, it was working well and the medical teams were very happy."

He was fit for discharge less than 24 hours later but he stayed on another day on the advice of his wife. The recipient asked to meet him before he left hospital.

He described the patient as "very lovely and gracious" and they have since written to him to say how their life has been transformed.

Dr Natin was back at work in four weeks and did not accept vouched expenses, which he was entitled to under the NHS programme.

He believes there is a need to educate people, including healthcare staff, that it is a relatively safe operation.

It will be necessary for the Government to bring in long-delayed legislation covering human tissue before altruistic donation is allowed in the State.

Last year, there were 40 donations of living kidneys by relatives and friends here.

There were 2,124 patients receiving kidney dialysis treatment last year, an increase of 50 compared to 2017.

The number of people on transplant waiting pools for all organs - including kidney, heart, lung, liver and pancreas - is approximately 550.

But thanks to the gift of organ donation almost 4,000 people who have received transplants in Ireland are enjoying extended lives.

The Irish Kidney Association said that consent levels increased in intensive care units where there was a fully trained nurse who specialised in organ donation. In the UK, only 22pc of families consented when no special nurse is involved.

Irish Independent

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